From Page To Stage: The birth of Artless Charlie – Part 19

3/30/02

Today we attempted to run Act I in Calkins dance studio. We clocked the run time for the first act, and unfortunately it looks to be running just shy of an hour and a half. Given the fact that people aren’t quite off book yet and seem to be slowing down moments by pausing to think about their lines, I’m hoping we can shave about 10-15 minutes off of that.  This time, I tried to let the scenes run into one another without stopping so I could give notes at the end.  Most of my notes were just smaller specifics regarding blocking and line notes, but there were a few more sweeping points that I tried to get across to the cast.  One being that Andrew H. really needs to look at his script some more. At one point tonight, he was calling “line” about every other time.  I mentioned this to him and feel confident that he will take a serious look at his script.

Tonight, I had a lot of trouble with Dan. He was late for the second time in a row, and completely unapologetic about it.  On top of that, he is now saying that he might be late for our tech because of a callback he wants to go to on Monday. This is a callback for an audition that caused him to miss almost an entire rehearsal last week.  In addition, Dan copped an attitude for almost the entire rest of the night.  He was short with another cast member, Kirsten, and I had to beg him to pay attention and write down the bevy of notes I had for him tonight.  After rehearsal, I spoke with him about some general performance notes, but purposely did not mention the rehearsal etiquette issue.  I know how defensive he gets about any criticism, however justified it might be.  So, instead of his behavior in rehearsal, I talked to him about the acting “crutches” that he refuses to let go of.  He has these circular physical gestures and bobbing head and shoulder movements that he is overusing to the point of being comical.  This has led to a horribly whiny quality to Charlie that is keeping me from being able to empathize with the character at all.  Instead of feeling sorry for him, I just wanted him to stop complaining and go away.  Hopefully, our post-rehearsal chat will lead him to take a serious look at these things and get him to actually start acting up there.  There is a real need for him to abandon these crutches and just simplify the moment, that way we can put brackets, so to speak, around the moments in which he is truly having trouble saying something.  This will also allow him to tie his thoughts together and cut a lot of time off the play.  As it stands, I don’t think he will be able to do this if he is still relying on his bad habits.

Aside from that, I am also feeling the pinch of time.  We now have only 3 more rehearsals in the Spiegel before we open, and this includes our dress rehearsals. I am afraid that we’re still working on some basic, elemental ideas at a pretty late point in the process.  If we are still dealing with those, when are we going to have time to deal with the specifics and technical issues that still need addressing?

We spent some time looking at the dancing moments in the doctor’s office (1.6) and trying to clarify at which moments they are dancing and which moments they are just standing with one another.  We also put some more movement into the dance to make it more visually interesting as well. The changes we made seemed to work out well, and Adam was actually the one who suggested the dancing movement changes. We cut the moment in 1.5 where Charlie asks Joe, once again, about his “cold”.  We, instead, turned the dialogue into a moment where Joe sniffles and checks his nose, Dan sees this and Joe starts his next line before Dan can say anything.  This is much simpler, and should work better once we get the timing right.

Again, we looked at the confrontational nature of Madeleine and Charlie’s dialogue in 1.5. It was still too strong on Dan’s part.  Emily gave them some good ideas about how the objective is different now, and clarified that Madeleine is telling Dan this because she wants him to be aware of it, not because Charlie is trying to get her to confess something.  I’m going to ask Royston to come in on Thursday, the next time that we are in the Spiegel, and take a look at how things are running.  I’m getting nervous about how short we’re getting on time, and I would like Royston to be able to tell me what, if anything, really needs serious adjustment.  Perhaps I’m just getting nervous, but I feel like there are more things that need fixing now than ever.  If the cast can just start to make these few overall adjustments that I’ve talked about, I think the rest will fall into place.

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